70 years ago the epoch of the Central Industrial Region began
In April 1937 professor Wladyslaw Danielecki, the senior assistant from Ferroconcrete Professorship and Bridges Department at Lwow Technical University was offered a position of manager having the task to build the Aviation Engine Plant No 2 in Rzeszow.
The National Aviation Company from Warsaw was the investor and the Ministry of Military Affairs - the organizer. The groundwork for Aviation Plant no. 2 in Rzeszów began few months later with construction over 21 hectares near the Wislok river and 10 hectares for the safety zone. 60 million zlotys were allocated for constructions and workshop equipment installation. Prominent representatives of the Government, including the creator of the Central Industrial Region, Vice Minister Eugienusz Kwiatkowski often visited the site.
The main shop was the first one to be built (current W53 shop) followed by the Warehouse and the Tooling Shop building. The tooling shop became functional in the second half of 1938. The same year the tooling production began and in 1939 the first production of components and aviation assemblies took place. In the short period between 1938 - 1939, piston engines were built under the license of the "Walter Czech Company", adopted by the Polish aviation industry and designed as the PZInz "Major" as well as engines under the license of the "Bristol" British company – designed "PEGASUS XX".
On September 9, 1939 the factory was seized by the Germans military. The factory was divided between Flugmotorenwerke Reichshof GmbH (incorporated by the Ernest Henschel aviation company from Kassel) and Daimler Benz from Stuttgart (the company used the factory for the maintenance of aviation engine on the East Front). In 1941 the companies employed two thousand people and produced parts and overhauled military aircraft engines such as the DB-606A.
On August 2, 1944, the factory was taken over by the Soviet military aUTCority under the command of an engineer, Colonel Siergiej W. Worozbiejew. In July 1945 the control of the company was given to the Polish authorities and for the next 4 years the company was named the National Aviation Factory Engine factory No.2, being under the aegis of the Central Management of Military Industry. In that period besides supplying the wide range of non-related aviation products such as: machine tools, cutting tools tractor parts and trucks, it performed mainly overhauls of either parts or entire Soviet engines.
In 1948 the Company completed the order from Sweden which was to overhaul 24 aviation piston engines, the Jumo 211 ABD/GH of 1200 HP. The production of the MD-11D was under Soviet license, and later the MD-11FR version, used for Jak 18, CSS - 13 aircraft and Junak - 2, Junak - 3, Zak -Zuch aircraft was designed by Tadeusz Soltyk. The five cylinder radial engines were of 125 and 150 HP, respectively .
The period between 1950-1952 played an important role in the life of the company marking the production of turbine engines under Soviet license. New shops were built: a forging shop in 1951 and an aluminum foundry in 1952. In the following years new shops appeared on the Company’s map: machining shop, assembly shop, sheet metal shop and others. The company’s first own design was born, which was a prototype of the turbojet engine under the TO-1 symbol designed by Tadeusz Mirski (1956-1958) and his team.
In spite of the fact that it did not obtain the required production level, the prototype helped provide experience in performing complex researches on certain engines and assemblies. In 1955 the company began its own design production of the FIS speedway motorcycle, well-known in Europe. In 1957 the production of the SM-1 helicopter gearbox was implemented which, with the seven cylinder radial engine Lt-3 produced until 1958, was used as the engine drive for the SM-1 helicopter produced by WSK Swidnik.
As a sideline, engines were manufactured for the Mikrus car, manufactures included drilling machines, crop spraying equipment, cream separators, textile machines, machine tools and even cutlery.
Between 1960-1961, the prototype shop for aircraft engines was built. It produced the HO-10 jet based on a developed prototype, which was the first engine used on the TS-11 Iskra military trainer. In 1961 the Company started production of the Asz-62R piston engine. After 1964, the implementation of the Mi-2 helicopter engine production began. Further expansion of the factory took place. Between 1966-1970 the demand for aircraft production was rising. Affiliate shops were often used.
Side-line production was terminated. Obsolete products, which did not meet world standard requirements, were moved to other factories. With space opened up, more advanced products were introduced, and often developed. In 1966 the Company started producing modern turbo shaft GTD-350 engines of 400HP, and WR-2 helicopter gearboxes for the Mi-2 helicopters. The SO-1 jet engine developed by the Aviation Institute was also in production and later the upgraded SO3 version for the TS-11 military trainer.
In the 1960s, the company started production of turbochargers for automotive, rail and marine applications under the license of the following companies: "Holset", "Napier", "Brown-Boveri", and "Schwitzer". It also produced torsional vibration dampers for piston engines, high pressure gear hydraulic pumps, electro-discharge and electrochemical machine tools.
In the 1970s, the next stage of intensive development of WSK took place; new affiliated shops were established in Zolynia, Dynow and Bartkowka. In 1973 the new cast iron foundry was completed. In 1975 the production of the PZL-3S engine for the PZL-106 Kruk agricultural aircraft started. In 1977 the production of the PZL-Franklin engine and Vulcan couplings began and the following year, the drill shanks and Renk gearboxes were manufactured.
In 1976 through the agency of PHZ PEZETEL, a long-term contract with Pratt & Whitney Canada was signed for the production of a wide range of parts for PT-6A engines, parts and assemblies for the PW-100 and PW-200 as well as for other engines. In 1996 a ten-year extension contract was signed.
Since 1980, further equipment modernization as well as implementation of new products took place. The SO-3 jet engine was replaced in 1981 by the modernized SO-3W. In 1984, PZL-3SR piston engine production based on the company’s own documentation was implemented for the engine used on agricultural aircrafts "PZL - 106AR Kruk" and "PZL - 106BR Kruk". In 1984 the production of the TWD-10B turboprop engine for the AN-28 aircraft started.
The production of PZL-10W engine started in 1986, which with its W-3 main transmission is the engine drive for the PZL "Sokol" helicopter. Development of aviation production has been supported by continuous improvement of production techniques.
In the 1990s, the ten thousand employees of the parent factory and its affiliates entered a downturn period, as the perspectives for producing aircraft engines looked bleak. The crisis of the domestic automotive industry and the collapse of the Eastern market, to which WSK exported about 75% of its production, loomed dangerously. However, with a complex restructuring program the Company regained its international recognition as a completely new organization. New products have been put into production, and new business relations have been established. A great deal of attention has been paid to product competitiveness.
In 1994 a Notarial Act transformed WSK into a Treasury Stock Company. In 2001 a modern plating shop with a sewage treatment plant was finished. On December 7, 2001, WSK became the winner of the 5th edition of the Polish Environment Leader Contest for achievements in the new plating shop. On September 21, 2001 the contract to sell 85% of WSK shares to United Technologies Holding S.A. was signed. On March 11, 2002, the block of shares in the Ministry of the Treasury was assigned to the new owner. Simultaneously, a decision was made to offer the 15% of remaining shares to employees, effective July 1 of that year.
A new superior operational quality developed at WSK, resulting in the receipt of quality certificate ISO 9001 and many others such as JAR-145 and JAR-21G. Among recent notable undertakings are: special testing and development of the K-15 engine, development of the K-16 jet engine, endurance testing of Franklin engines, research and development of the SW-4 helicopter main transmission system, design and development of the smoke generating unit, modification of the existing torsional vibration dampers in a new and modern design, introduction of new techniques in the casting processes, etc. In fact, many ambitious projects and developments are under way.